Saturday, September 01, 2007

Forthcoming WUNT Monograph

My good friend Preston Sprinkle, now teaching at Cedarville University in the USA, will have his Ph.D Thesis (written at Aberdeen) published in January of next year with Mohr-Siebeck in the WUNT series.

Preston M. Sprinkle
Law and Life: The Interpretationof Leviticus 18:5 in Early Judaism and in Paul (WUNT; Tuebingen:Mohr-Siebeck, 2008).

This thesis examines the interpretation of Lev 18:5 (“…which if a person does he will live by them”) in early Judaism and in Paul. This passage from Leviticus, used in later OT tradition (Ezek 20:11, 13, 21; Neh 9:29), became one of the more important verses from the Hebrew Bible for early Jewish reflection on the notion that obedience to the Mosaic law will lead to eternal life. The apostle Paul cites the passage on two occasions (Gal 3:12; Rom 10:5) and his interpretation of it is highly debated. While scholars often discuss its meaning in Paul, a thorough examination of Lev 18:5 in the OT and early Judaism has been virtually ignored. This thesis, then, seeks to contribute to our understanding of Paul’s view of the law in relation to early Jewish soteriology through the lens of their respective interpretations of Lev 18:5.

First, I look at the original context of Lev 18, along with its later interpretations in Ezekiel, Nehemiah, and the Septuagint. Second, I examine its interpretive tradition in early Judaism (200 B.C.E.–100 C.E.). The documents examined here include the Damascus Document, the Words of the Luminaries, the Psalms of Solomon, Philo’s De Congressu, and Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities. Many of these documents understand Lev 18:5 along similar lines: obedience to the law is a necessary pre-condition for the attainment of eternal life. Third, I examine the use of Lev 18:5 in Paul, where it is cited on two occasions and each time opposed to other OT passages, Hab 2:4 (in Gal 3:11–12) and Deut 30:12–14 (in Rom 10:5–8). Paul opposed Lev 18:5, we argue, because it expresses a soteriological formulation that is contrary to the gospel of faith. Leviticus 18:5 requires human deeds as a pre-condition for eternal life, while the gospel of faith testifies to God’s unilateral saving action. Following our study of Paul, we conclude with a comparison between early Jewish and Pauline views of Lev 18:5. Here, we note the similarities and differences between Paul and his Jewish contemporaries on this passage and offer some implications for Paul’s view of the law.


Anonymous said...


Congrats on the forth coming publication of your thesis. This is really cool!

Gerald said...


Nice work--I look forward to picking this up when it is out.


pdug said...


I wonder how you see God's words to Ezekiel that echo the text. Is God offering eternal life for their works, or doing something else (calling them to faith?)